The Electoral Map Favors DeSantis Over Trump

The critical issue for any Republican running for the presidency is whether he or she can reach 270 electoral votes. In 2020, Trump reached 232. In 2024, everything he carried in 2020 will be worth 234 votes as the result of demographic changes Thus, the Republican who runs will have to carry those 234 votes and add 36. Within the 234 will be the 16 votes of North Carolina. Unlike the other states Trump carried in 2020, North Carolina may present unique challenges. Therefore, the successful Republican challenger against Biden (but more than likely against some other Democrat) will have to focus on four critical states: North Carolina, Georgia (16 votes), Arizona (11 votes) and Wisconsin (10 votes). Assuming the other 218 votes carried by Trump in 2020 are not in peril of being lost -- which seems likely at present -- the successful Republican will finish with 271 electoral votes.

It is recommended that Republicans proceed on the assumption that Michigan and Pennsylvania will be carried by the Democrats in 2024 as they were in 2020. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, won a substantial reelection victory in 2022 and has built up a blue wall in that state in some respects the way DeSantis built a red wall in Florida. Also, she very well could end up on the Democratic ticket as the nominee for president or vice president.  The clobbering the Republicans took in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial and senate races in 2022 suggests that the state may be out of reach for the foreseeable future. However, in so far as the losing Pennsylvania candidates were both endorsed by Trump, it can be argued that DeSantis will be a stronger candidate for that state’s 19 votes than the former president.

North Carolina is in danger of being whittled away the same way Georgia and Arizona were in 2020, both of which Trump carried in 2016. Trump’s margin of victory dropped from 3 1/2 % in 2016 to 1 1/2% in 2020. The trajectory doesn’t favor Trump. The 2022 Republican senate candidate, Ted Budd, only carried the state by 2.8%, down from polling that had him ahead by 5 or 6 points. DeSantis has a much better chance than Trump of holding onto the state. He is a popular Southern governor in a nearby state who will be more relatable to the voters than Trump.

Georgia is the critical state for Republicans that must be flipped. It replaces Pennsylvania’s status in 2020 as the state that must be carried to win. Trump’s prospects in Georgia are very dim. He has alienated many Georgia voters whom he advised not to bother voting in the senate runoffs from 2020. He has also alienated Brian Kemp, Georgia’s popular Republican governor, when he tried to have Kemp knocked out in a 2022 primary election. Kemp won the primary in a landslide, thus showing that he has far more popular support than Trump in the state. Trump’s handpicked candidate for senate also lost. DeSantis, on the other hand, is the very popular and well-known governor in a state that borders Georgia. DeSantis is already popular in Georgia in that like North Carolina he has geographic roots in the region. As a fellow Southern governor, he should also be able to get enthusiastic support from Brian Kemp and other Republicans that Trump has alienated. Anyone who favors Trump over DeSantis for the nomination should explain exactly how he will carry Georgia in the general election.

Arizona is another state where Trump has alienated a key political leader whose support he will need to carry the state. Doug Ducey won the gubernatorial elections in 2014 and 2018 in Arizona by 12 and 14 points respectively. Trump was critical of Ducey because, like Kemp in Georgia, he certified Biden as the winner of the presidential election in his state. Trump’s handpicked Arizona candidates lost their senate and gubernatorial races in 2022. It has been reported that Ducey might have run for the Senate in 2022 but was concerned that Trump would derail him. However, Ducey would be a strong candidate for senate in 2024 against the unpopular Kyrsten Sinema. He would also be someone DeSantis could campaign with in Arizona. Ducey has taken strong proactive measures against open borders in Arizona. The combination of the defeat of Trump’s candidates in 2022 and his attacks against the popular Ducey in 2020 suggest he will have major problems in Arizona in 2024.

Both Trump and DeSantis will have the same problems in Wisconsin. The Republican Ron Johnson barely held on to his Senate seat in 2022 by one point against a far-left Democrat. Also, the popular Democrat senator Tammy Baldwin is eligible to run again in 2024. She won reelection by 11 points in 2018. Trump’s trajectory in Wisconsin was down in 2020 from 2016, and he has no other way to make up the ten electoral votes the state has if he loses it in 2024. DeSantis, on the other hand, can get over the finish line by replacing Wisconsin with Nevada (6 votes) and New Hampshire (4 votes). Republicans ran stronger in Nevada in 2022 than 2020 and elected a Republican governor who could appear with DeSantis and publicly support him. Even though three of the four congressional races resulted in Democrat victories, the aggregate vote totals show Republicans received 509,000 votes versus 475,000 for the Democrats in all four races.

New Hampshire re-elected Chris Sununu, a popular Republican governor, in 2022 by 15 points. Trump’s endorsed senate candidate lost by 9 points. However, Trump only lost New Hampshire by 3000 votes in 2016. Even though he lost the state by 59,000 votes in 2020, his 2016 numbers coupled with Sununu’s margin of victory in 2022 suggest that New Hampshire can be carried by the right Republican candidate.

If Trump is the nominee, Democrats will have a field day running commercials showing him claiming that he won the 2020 election. The media will constantly focus on this by asking Trump about 2020. Trump is likely to angrily explode in his answers and these outbursts will constitute the whole news cycle. It should be kept in mind that Stacey Abrams constantly claimed she won the Georgia gubernatorial election in 2018, and she lost much worse in her 2022 gubernatorial bid than in 2018. This should be a warning sign for Trump. For the Republicans to win in 2024, the campaign must be about Biden’s failed presidency. A Trump candidacy will make the election about him, and this will result in a guaranteed loss. A recent USA Today poll shows Trump losing to Biden by a 47% to 40% margin. On the other hand, DeSantis is beating Biden by a 47% to 43% margin.

Some have argued that DeSantis should wait until 2028 for his turn. The problem is that if the Democrats win in 2024, the 2028 election will be a foregone conclusion. It is no secret that the millions of illegals who are entering the U.S. from the southern border are being shipped in to form a voting bloc for the Democrats. By the time the 2028 election arrives, there will likely already be a mass amnesty and a major push to register them to vote. In addition, millions more will enter after a Democrat victory in 2024. Simply put, we can’t wait until 2028. We need a candidate who can win in 2024, and unfortunately Trump is not that candidate.

The above analysis will also work for Georgia governor Brian Kemp or South Dakota governor Kristi Noem in the event DeSantis doesn’t run. Of course, we should all support Trump if he is the 2024 nominee.

Image: Magog the Ogre

If you experience technical problems, please write to